THE GOAL OF PSYCHOTHERAPY IS NOT TO STRENGHTEN THE EGO BUT TO LET IT GO
What exactly is the best goal of psychotherapy? What do psychotherapists hope to accomplish in their patients and in themselves? Do they even ask this question before they embark on their psychotherapeutic process, or do they just talk loads of rubbish, such as the Psychodynamics of id, ego and superego and transference relationship between the patient and her psychoanalyst?
Here is the problem. Upon birth in human bodies, children use their experiences in their unique bodies, families, and society to fashion self-concepts and self-images and personalities for themselves.
The self-concept, the human personality says that one is separated from other people; it further says that one is special.
Whereas all people feel special, some persons feel more special than others. Psychoanalysts like Alfred Adler and Karen Horney told us that some people experience life in their bodies as painful and traumatizing and reject their bodies and instead use their minds (thinking) to construct unrealistic selves, such as ideal, important selves, powerful selves, perfect selves; their selves insist that they must be the best in everything they do.
In other words, some children develop neurotic selves. We can rename neurosis the various personality disorders, or even call their exaggerated forms the various mental disorders.
The neurotic is a self that exaggerates what is found in normal persons; normal persons want to seem separated and special but acknowledge that other people are also separated and special whereas neurotics want to be better than all other persons.
The desire to be the best can get to a point that it is an all or nothing phenomenon in the neurotic child. The child so wants to be the best at play and at school, and as adult at work, generally, that he fears not measuring up as the best. The prospect of failing attaining the ideal, powerful best status generates tremendous anxiety in the neurotic child.
To avoid or reduce that debilitating anxiety, neurotic children often drop out of school, and as adults drop out of the world of productive work.
If one does not compete with other people at play, or school or workplace one does not fail and if one does not fail one retains one’s imaginary sense of perfection and powerfulness. In living outside competitive society, one retains one’s false, grandiose self-concept, self-image, and personality.
Such persons live to perpetually defend their neurotic false, grandiose selves with the various ego defense mechanisms but are not productive in the sense of generating what serves society well.
THE ROLE OF THERAPY IS TO HELP THE NEUROTIC LET GO OF THE FALSE SELF, NOT TO STRENGHTEN IT
Psychotherapists skirt around the neurotic ego, talking about shrinking or strengthening their patients’ egos.
Oriental religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zen tell us that the self-concept, the self-image, the human personality, all of it is not who we are. Whether your self-concept is normal or grandiose does not matter; the self you believe that you have is false, it is not who you are.
The false self needs defense to seem real. The self-one thinks that one is, is a false self, it must be defended (with the various ego defense mechanisms, including repression, suppression, denial, projection, displacement, fantasy, avoidance, minimization, sublimation, reaction-formation, fear, anxiety, depression, paranoia, pride, shame, guilt…all mental disorders are really means of defending the individual’s idea of who he is, his false ego; remove the ego defenses and there is no ego separated self but there is a unified self) to seem real in one’s awareness.
If you did not desire your neurotic big self and defend it, it does not exist. The unreal needs defense to seem real, the real does not need defense to exist.
There is a real self in one, that real self does not defend itself; it is the neurotic false self that needs defense to seem to exist.
Hinduism and Buddhism, in meditation tell us that we must negate the self that we are aware of, for it is not who we are. We must give up whatever self-concepts we have in our minds for they are not who we are; do not defend your conscious self-concept and conscious self-image and your personality (personality is a persona, a mask we put on; remove it to experience the real self behind the mask we show to each other to relate to in society).
When you give up the special ego separated self you have an inner sense of void, emptiness; you feel as if you have no self.
The you now having this feeling of having no separated, special self, is the real you, the unified spirit self in you, the life force in you; it is the real self that upon encounter with the human body and society initially thought that it must formulate a special separated self to adapt to the exigencies of life in body, space, and time.
Oriental religions say that if you stop identifying with the false ego self you would have no anxiety, fear, and anger (and mental disorders). In the inner void, no separated self-self-state you would experience your real self, which both Hinduism and Buddhism say is part of Brahman (God). We can dispense with the idea of God and call the real-self life.
Life in formless state is eternal, permanent, and changeless. Your real self is part of life. One life is itself and simultaneously infinite selves. Each of us is a unit of the real self, a unit of life.
whereas life knows itself to be one in all selves, in us we believe that we are the separated self that we are aware of and defend it. In neuroses and in psychoses we defend a wished-for grand self.
Now, assume that you have no separated, special self, grand or humble self, and do not wish to have a separated self and do not defend a separated special self. Empty your mind of all self-constructs you have.
Do not posit a grandiose and perfect self with whose imaginary yardsticks you are judging you and all people and making life miserable for you, feeling anxious and angry and or dropping out of school and workplace to go defend it.
If you must have a separated self at all, have no rigid sense of self but have a flexible self; better still, have no sense of self at all; see you as part of one unified life and flow with life, coping with whatever the situation you find you in calls for.
What is the goal of psychotherapy? It is to help the client to realize that he thinks that he has a separated special ego self and that how he defends that false self-causes his fear, anxiety, anger, depression, paranoia, and all his mental health issues. Since that self is false, he is to let all of it go.
Give up your idea of the self you are and have no self that you are conscious of and you live freely and healthily. The goal of psychotherapy is for you to have no special, separated self.
If you have no separated special self that you desire and defend you are mentally healthy; you learn quicker at school without fearing failing; you play with other people without fearing how they treat you; you like you and no longer fear other people’s rejection of your ego.
You do not need other people to like you, for it is the ego that desires other egos to like it and in other people liking it, it seems real; your real self, the unified self, knows that it is one with all selves and simply affirms its joined and connected oneness with all selves; the unified self loves all selves for it knows that all selves are part of it and to love them all is to love its whole self and to hate any of them is to hate a part of its unified self; to be at peace and happiness is to love all of one’s whole self; to be miserable is to hate parts of one’s self (in other people).
I used to think that I have a separated, special self; I wanted that self to be important and powerful; in desiring it and defending it I was prone to fear, anxiety and anger and paranoia. Thereafter, I recognized that the self that I thought that I have is a chimera, an illusion, it is make belief, it does not exist.
What exists in me is the life in me; that life in me is the same life in all people. So, I stopped telling me that I have an important self and accepted that I am simply part of all selves, I am part of all life. I no longer defend a specific conception of self in me; I do not defend whatever self-image I had.
I no longer behave as if I have a special, separated self. I have let go of my hitherto personality, my prior learned pattern of behaving towards other people and society; I now flow with life. In letting go of all images of self I had I am now at peace with life.
A CASE STUDY
The subject is a black woman. In childhood, from about age three, she felt assorted pain when her parents were trying to comb her wooly hair, so her parents left her hair uncombed.
She was a gifted child and attended a school for children with gifted IQ. By the time she was twelve years old she developed oppositional defiant disorder. She would not listen to any Adult who dared telling her what to do. Thereafter, she felt that going to school was a waste of her time; she claimed to know more than her teachers; she dropped out of school. She literally decided to not bother with schooling and nothing her parents did would make her change her mind. Naturally, her parents insisted that she go to school and occasionally she did but by age sixteen she stopped doing so.
As a young woman she is arrogant; she feels like she knows more than every person in her world and wants people to listen to her but not her listen to them. She wants her boyfriends to tow her line and not her their line (so they leave her).
She has an excessively arrogant self-concept; that arrogant self is not to be subjected to competition least she failed; to avoid failing she dropped out of school and work. She then pretends to be an important woman that men should respect but not her men.
She refuses to accept who she is, black, but wants to be seen as anything but black. She claims to be native American or Arab, or Moor, or even white, any person but her black self. She wastes her energy pretending to be who she is not, when simply accepting that she is black would make her relax and live-in peace.
Clearly, in childhood, she rejected her problematic body and used her mind to invent an alternative ideal, grandiose self and identifies with that false self and is now wasting her energy trying to be that false self. She is kind of like a prisoner sentenced to the prison of trying to be who she is not.
Most people know that the best way to live life is to be one’s authentic self, but she wants to be her false, big self.
Diagnostically, she presents features resembling delusion disorder, grandiose type. She does not need medications but need to be persuaded, if she would listen to other people, to change her grandiose self-concept and embrace her real self, a self that is neither grand nor worthless, just a part of life.
She is a neurotic black woman who rejects her black self in pursuit of any self but black. Her cure is amazingly simple, stop rejecting herself and let go of the false self that wants to be important and powerful.
She projects her ideal self to white selves; she sees black people as ugly and unintelligent hence does not want to be like them and does not want anything to do with them.
Ultimately, she should have no self-construct and simply live from the real self, a self that is part of life and flows with life.
To live from the big ego separated self is to be in existential jail house; freedom from that jail house is to jettison the special separated self and live from the real self, an undefined self, a self that is simply part of life.
The physical universe, and one’s body and social experience seem designed to make one feel that one has a unique, separated, special self and defend that false separated self when one perceives it to be attacked by other selves and fears its destruction.
Since the universe and one’s body and family seem to have designed one to have a unique, special type of self, grandiose or normal, we must never blame anyone because of his self-structure.
What we need to do is let our specific ego selves go and then show other people how to do what we did so that they, too, live-in peace.
The purpose of psychotherapy, properly understood, is to help the client to let go of whatever self-concept, self-image, and personality he has; in doing so he knows peace and joy. Good psychotherapy enables one to have no man-made self and know peace and joy.
No one can give to other persons what he has not first given to his self; therefore, the therapist must first let go of his separated ego self before he shows the client how to do what he did; if he has not let go of his own ego, he has no business trying to help people let go of their egos; he is an unhealed healer trying to heal other people; he will not succeed!
A healed person is no longer self-conscious for only the separated special self is self-conscious; a healed person is part of life and flows with life, unaware of his separation from it.
WHAT IS A MAN’S LOVE FOR A WOMAN?
To love a woman is to give her whatever she asks for that is within your power to give and ask for nothing from her in return; love is giving without asking for something in return.
Love is caring for a woman and not be concerned with whether she cares for you or not.
Love is doing things for a woman but not expecting her to do anything in return for you; give and not expect to get is the definition of love.
Love is non-judgmental; love accepts a woman in an unconditionally positive manner (unless she engages in antisocial behavior, in which case her mistakes are corrected with gentle words, not with harsh words).
Interestingly, since to give is to receive, if you give to other persons, they tend to give to you; indeed, since all persons are extensions of you, when you give to people you are giving to you.
Love for people gives you self-love; hate for other people gives one self-hate.
Forgiveness for other people’s errors gives one forgiveness of one’s errors. Forgiving minds live in peace; unforgiving minds live in lack of peace.
Those who love people do receive the gifts of God: peace and joy.
May 7, 2021